Belfast Telegraph

Small Irish firms 'could be hit' by hard Brexit

By Hugh O'Connell

A hard Brexit could lead to cross-border shopping sprees that could damage many small Irish businesses along the frontier, the Republic's Finance Minister has been warned.

The Oireachtas Budgetary Oversight Committee has advised Paschal Donohoe that in a no-deal scenario there should be "broad alignment between tax regimes" in the Republic and Northern Ireland to limit the movement of people across jurisdictions to buy cheaper consumer goods.

"Failure to do so may lead to revenue leakage and erode the competitiveness of small businesses in the border area, an area that is already susceptible to the shock of a hard Brexit," the committee has warned in its final pre-Budget report.

Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach, who is based near the border in Louth, expressed particular concern that people would travel to Northern Ireland to buy white goods such as fridges and washing machines at the expense of businesses in the Republic. He said it was a "no-brainer" to have some form of alignment on taxation.

In its report published yesterday, the committee called on Mr Donohoe to be mindful of any "unintended consequences" his Budget decisions may have on the border area. It also calls for a Brexit Stabilisation Fund to support "affected sectors, businesses and communities in all Brexit scenarios" and for more clarity on whether the State's rainy day fund can be used for Brexit contingency planning.

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